By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune
Garden Grove High School football coach Ricardo Cepeda was smiling after his team defeated Katella High School Saturday night at Handel Stadium in Anaheim.
“It always feels good when you win,” he said.
But the Argonauts didn’t simply win a game. With their 28-14 triumph over the Knights, they clinched no worse than a tie for the Big-4 League title and locked up a CIF-SS playoff spot.
Since the start of the 21st century, Grove has won 13 league gridiron titles, included a string of seven at one point.
Cepeda credited all-star running back Malachi Bey – who rushed for three scores – the Argo defense and offensive line with the win.
“Look at those guys,” he said, gesturing toward a group of linemen with mud-smeared uniforms. “They’re all dirty.”
The red-and-white defense did a good job of containing Katella’s outstanding running back Gabriel Dawson.
The light rain that spent most of the first half over Handel Stadium may well have had an effect on the game, in which there were few long plays, and – instead – a lot of slogging.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, but Grove took a lead it wouldn’t relinquish at 1:34 of the second quarter when Bey scored on a second and goal from the Knight three.
At 10:46 of the third period, the Argos capped a 10-play drive with a scoring lunge by fullback Daniel Martinez from four yards out and a 21-7 lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, Katella elected to go for it on a fourth and two from their own 28. The play failed and Grove took over in good field position.
The Argos moved down to the Knight 4-yard line, where Bey took it in for his third score.
Trailing 28-7, the Knights (now 3-5 and 1-1) rallied to reach the end zone on a 5-yard scoring pass from Issac Diaz to William Leapart with 1:19 to go. After that, the Garden Grove offense took a knee and let time run out on a rainy but satisfying win.
Mud-smeared and grinning, Bey looked fresh as a daisy at the end of all this. As a two-way player, who carried most of the Argonaut mail, was he tired?
“No,” he said. “We practice hard. You gotta practice like you play.”
Garden Grove, now 8-1 overall and 2-0 in league, has had a lot of practice in winning championships, and on Saturday put another trophy on the mantle.
Categories: High school sports